Saturday 17 November 2018

The mighty Quinn!

Blessington native and Senior Irish soccer player, Louise Quinn, collected the 3FAI Senior International Player of the Year award at the recent soccer awards in the RTE studios.

Blessington native and Senior Irish soccer player, Louise Quinn, collected the 3FAI Senior International Player of the Year award at the recent soccer awards in the RTE studios.

Currently in Cyrpus for the Cyprus Cup competition Louise took a break from her busy schedule to answer some questions about the past, the present and the future.

Tell us about receiving the award last weekend. It's a massive honour no doubt but I'm sure it's deserved given the hard work you've put in to your career?

I really couldn't of been happier receiving the award, I'm very proud and privileged to have received it especially when you look back and see what players have gotten it before and my current team mates that could have also gotten it. But really its been a lot of hard work over many many years but the past 2 and a half years now that really made it happen. Moving to my team Eskilstuna United in Sweden has been of real benefit to me and with the Irish team we have improved massively so its easy to play well when your team mates around you are playing just as well!

How was the event itself? Was it interesting being in a room with the cream of the Irish soccer crop so to speak?

The event is very well organised because it has to be ready to go live on TV but unfortunately to budget cuts they can no longer put on a gala event but that's not too concerning. People are just honored to be there and up for their nomination. Its great looking around the room and seeing the best players in Ireland and knowing that you are nominated for such a great award. Always nice seeing all the men's team there also but hopefully one day it will be an event where the whole women's team also gets invited!

Take us back to Blessington when you were a child. Where does the love of soccer come from and who was or were your inspiration and driving force?

The love of soccer just came naturally really, there were plenty of footballs lying around the garden because my Dad was a very good GAA player who played for Wicklow, and my Mam just always had an interest in sport, but I must have just preferred to have kept the ball at my feet rather than pick it up in my hands and solo it around! But also my good friend Derek was a very good footballer and his Dad, Vincent Balfe, was the coach of the boys team in Blessington so I just played with their team for fun.

You played with the Blessington boys from under-6 to under-13 and with Lakeside girls under the recently deceased Garry McGuire. Soccer must have been a massive part of your life. What would be the fondest memories from that time? The highlights will probably include becoming All-Ireland champions at U-12 and U-15 with you as captain. Can you briefly describe those moments for us?

There were so many memories from that time. I remember scoring my first goal for the boys team vs Palmerstown, I don't think the other team thought of marking me too much because I was a girl (one of the only girls in the entire league at the time I think) and in my eyes I just drove the ball low are hard into the bottom corner.

But i'm not sure looking back on that now if that's what really happened! We won many league titles with the boys also.

And yes winning the All Ireland with Lakeside was brilliant. Winning such a great massive tournament with your local team and your friends was just brilliant. The trips to Mosney were great! Gerry Maguire was a great man for development of women's football in our area so I really owe a lot to him.

To Peamount then and you really seemed to thrive there with you playing the role as captain again and the team making it to the last 32 of the Champions League. Firstly, what was it about that team and club that brought out the best of everybody and secondly, leadership seems to be in your make up, can you pinpoint where that comes from and is it something that sits easily with you?

Peamount United just love their women's football. They knew their was massive talent out there and they wanted to find it and develop it at Peamount. Our coach Eileen Gleeson just lives and breathes football so when your coach loves football as much as you do you want to play well for them and yourself. And the back room staff was always fantastic in the club, the work Dennis Commins and Ann Meehan did for the club was phenomenal so the club was so well organised all it needed were the players and the right coaching and that was exactly what we got.

I'm not sure where my leadership abilities came from really, I have always been quite mature person but always like to take care of people and make sure they're ok. I don't think i'd be a bossy person but I do like my voice to be heard and to give direction and advice on and off the pitch if its needed. It just comes naturally really, I don't really think about it.

You're currently vice-captain of the Irish Senior team. Can you describe the schedule for a player at that level, the training, the travel for those players playing abroad and how the whole system operates?

The schedule when you play International football is very full on. You don't really get a break from football because you are either playing with your club or country but I'm fine with that! Travelling can be quite tiring really as it usually takes a full day of travelling on trains, planes and automobiles. Sweden luckily isn't too far from Ireland but it does take it out of you. A few people are flying in from different parts of the world and we try to meet about 4-5 days before the actual game so we get enough training sessions in together. When in camp its a lot of the same stuff, Eat breakfast, foam roll, video analysis, train, pool recovery, eat lunch, train (if we need to), recovery, dinner, team meeting and bed. That is a usual day for us when in camp.

Training involves obviously getting our touch in but also involves a lot of shape work and tactics. Our own tactics and how we plan on counter acting on the other teams game plan but we mainly think about ourselves.

Last year you joined Swedish outfit Eskilstuna United and promptly won the league for the first time in their history. Talk about landing on your feet. Take us through the experience.

Joining my current team Eskilstuna United was a big deal for me, I had never played football abroad so didn't really know what to expect apart from stories I had heard from some other girls I know playing abroad and because at the time I was signing I did know anyone in Sweden so it was going to be a really big move for me, football wise but also personally. But luckily just before I moved over they signed an English girl Vaila Barsley who I knew and an Irish team mate Meabh De Burca so it made my move and settling down into the club and town so much easier.

At the beginning of the season we were predicted to finish mid table but myself and the girls knew we could better that. Winning the league never really entered out minds but taking each game as it came and getting 3 points from each game was the plan and we stuck to it quite well! We got promoted on the 2nd last game of the season as we were guaranteed 2nd place at least so that was an unbelievable moment for us. We still had one game left which we were desperate to win to give ourselves the best chance at coming first if the other top team didn't win their game. Which they didn't so last game of the season right at the end of our game we found out we won the league! It made it more special as my parents came over to be there for the last game so it was fantastic having them there to celebrate with us.

How have you adapted to the Scandinavian way of life? Has homesickness been a factor?

I have adapted very well to Scandanavian life. they are very calm, cool and collected people but very organised at the same time. If you don't arrive half an hour before something is supposed to start you are late and if you don't like coffee you're in trouble. But they make it very easy for you to live there. Sometimes they are hard people to make bonds with in the beginning but once you're in you are in! Luckily with all the trips home I get when I need to come back for the International Team, I can sometimes get a day or 2 at home to spend with family or friends so it makes it that bit easier. My parents always tell my sisters and I to takes adventures away from home so to know what they are willing us to get out and see the world makes it that little bit easier to be away even though we miss them terribly all the time. Both sisters also live away from home. Vivienne is in Abu Dhabi and Sinead is in Australia.

Take us through the week of a professional soccer player in Sweden?

Currently with Eskilstuna we are in the middle of preseason training so that involves two training sessions on a Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, one session on Tuesday and Friday and a friendly game on Saturday. Some of those sessions are individual and gym sessions. Surprisingly Its a very enjoyable preseason, very satisfying completing a hard training week. Myself and my roommate also coach school kids during the week and a lot of other time is spent resting and recovering.

Next month you begin life as a player in the Swedish Premier league. What are you expecting at the higher level?

The difference from the Elitettan league to the Damallsvenskan league will be a really big step up for our team. Luckily having experience at international level helps because you that the tempo of the game will be much faster but we have a few players who have not experienced such a fast tempo game.

We have signed a few very experienced players now though which has helped us so much to make the jump up to the level that is required. Other teams have some top class players who would even be the stars of their national teams so it will be a massive challenge for us but one that we can't wait for.

If there's a young girl reading this and dreaming of a life like yours what advice or words of inspiration would you offer them?

For younger girls who may be interested in playing football for your country one day is just for them to enjoy it. Never once was I pressured to get to a high level, I was just encouraged by family and friends to do well and enjoy it.

So if you have an interest in football go out there, have fun, make friends, work hard to reach goals that you set for yourself and just take on the great advice you can receive from your coaches, family and friends!

What improvements could be made by the FAI and by the media in showcasing womens soccer in this country and how does the coverage compare with Sweden?

It is so important for the women's game to have plenty of media coverage. Slowly and surely there as been extra interest in women's football especially the past year with my former teammate Stephanie Roche's wonder goal which was then followed by the FAI cup final being aired on TV which was brilliant for the game but it can't stop there, in the lead up to games we just need coverage from all areas of the media.

With budget cuts everywhere we can't meet up for training as often as we like but it has shown for the Women's rugby team that hard work, dedication and success, helps promote awareness and interest among the media and, as a result, sponsors and Government are willing to pump more money into women's sport.

The girls in the rugby team were able to excel in their sport and then they received the appropriate training and facilities they needed.

They have been a credit to women in sport in Ireland. It's fantastic to see. Especially since my best friend Jenny Murphy is a key player in that team, Number 12.

Coverage in Sweden is very good, 1-2 games a weeks gets aired live on TV over there along with constant write ups in newspapers and on websites online.

And just advertising for the game is non stop over there. Its great being over there and seeing the great steps they are taking to advertise the game over there but there is still a long way to go yet.

If you weren't playing soccer professionally what would Louise Quinn be doing?

There is no doubt if I wasn't playing football I would be involved in sport one way or another. I have a degree from UCD in Sports and Exercise Management and I also have a keen interest in Sports massage which I hope to one day get qualifications in.

How is the Cyprus Cup going for you at the moment?

At the moment we are in Cyprus for a tournament over here in the lead up to our World Cup Qualifiers in April and May vs Germany and Russia which take place in Tallaght Stadium.

We have had two very good results over here so far drawing 1-1 with New Zealand who are ranked 17 places above us and we also drew 1-1 with South Korea who are ranked 16 places above us so they are very positive results for us.

And I'm happy to say I scored the goal vs South Korea which is always nice for a defender to get on the score sheet!

The progression this squad has made in the past year has been brilliant so everyone is very positive and confident at the moment.

We play Switzerland tomorrow (Monday) which is a game we must get three points from if we want to top our mini group and get a higher ranking and currently we are very optimistic we can do so.

Then we will have one more game against another team but we are unsure who that will be yet.

So I believe women's football is on the rise in Ireland.

Ireland did indeed beat Switzerland by 2-1 but South Korea defeated New Zeland so Ireland finished second in their group and were set to face Canada in the battle for fifth/sixth place at the time of going to print.

Wicklow People